College Sports

John McGrath: Please, save me your bracket opinion (I’ve already filled out mine)

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo celebrates with his players after beating Purdue in the finals at the Big Ten Conference tournament on Sunday. Columnist John McGrath picks the Spartans to celebrate again April 4 in Houston.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo celebrates with his players after beating Purdue in the finals at the Big Ten Conference tournament on Sunday. Columnist John McGrath picks the Spartans to celebrate again April 4 in Houston. The Associated Press

I don’t care about the bracket you filled out for the NCAA Tournament. It is less relevant to me than the origin of your grandfather’s middle name.

If we happen to be chatting over the next few days and the subject turns to the 12th seed you believe will upset the fifth seed, spare me the temptation of covering my ears and screaming.

I’m not always this much of a grouch. If you show me photos of your nephew and niece at a ski lodge, I will nod and smile. If you explain every detail about how it was necessary to put in an emergency call for a plumber last week, I will feign concern by uttering such phrases as “Is that so?” and “Wow, that probably cost a pretty penny!”

Share your favorite memory playing solitaire on an airplane. Heck, share your top five. I’m listening, sort of.

But please, puh-lease, refrain from any references to your tournament bracket.

Don’t bring up the South Region, where I believe California will survive a first-round scare against Hawaii before joining Miami, Villanova and Kansas in the Sweet 16. Of that group, I’ve got Kansas advancing to Houston, but the Jayhawks will get a tense test against the Hurricanes in the regional final.

If you inform me that you had trouble filling out the West, you are talking to yourself because I had no trouble at all.

That pick’em game between eighth-seeded Cincinnati and ninth-seeded Saint Joseph’s in the first round at Spokane? Nothing to it. I went with Cincinnati and then scribbled out the Bearcats when I realized the daughter of one of my oldest friends played basketball at Saint Joseph’s.

None of that any matters in a region where Oregon, Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma will move on to third round. I see the Ducks over the Sooners for the Final Four berth.

What team do you like in the East Region? I don’t want to know what team you like. I’d rather learn about the perks of your new cable TV package, and the problems you had with your old cable TV package.

What team you like in the East means nothing to me.

I like Xavier.

Xavier will beat Indiana, which will be on a roll after eliminating Kentucky in the second round and North Carolina in the third.

Several acquaintances of mine are Gonzaga fans, and while I enjoy shooting the breeze with them about a team that seemed to underachieve this season, their projections for the Zags in the Midwest are moot.

For what it’s worth, I’ve penciled in the Bulldogs, seeded No. 11, to beat sixth-seeded Seton Hall in the first round, which would qualify as an upset by selection-committee standards but not by Las Vegas oddsmakers

Upon “upsetting” Seton Hall, the Zags will be gone in Denver, where Utah will own both a home-court advantage and a familiarity with the altitude. Utah then loses to Michigan State in Chicago, where the Spartans will prevail over Purdue’s tall-tree front court in the regional final.

My Final Four is calling for Kansas, Oregon, Xavier and Michigan State, and for the Spartans to cut down the nets in Houston after taking care of the Jayhawks.

If this prognostication differs from yours, can you offer the simple courtesy of not talking to me about it?

Your tournament bracket means as little to me as your 2015 football fantasy team and your 2016 baseball fantasy team. I don’t give a hoot.

There ought to be a law prohibiting conversation regarding NCAA brackets in March, when casual college basketball fans turn into obnoxiously informed college basketball fans.

It’s so dumb, isn’t it? How can anybody forecast the outcome of a tournament that Michigan State will win with a 74-68 decision over Kansas?

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